4 Small but Smart Self-Care Tips For Mental Health Awareness Month

It’s with a certain degree of eye-rolling that we announce that it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, Dear People.  The irony is not lost on us.

No question, our emotional resilience has taken a hit from this miserable pandemic and everything it threw at us:  terror, isolation, disruption of stable routines, cabin-fever, strained relationships, loss of work, income, and worst of all, loss of beloved family and friends.

 We just want to remind you (and ourselves!) that there are things that are in our control to do, that will ease the distress - small but smart measures of self-care. So, for instance: 

Get Your Zzzzzzs

Yeah, yeah, we know. Easier said than done. But here are the basic sleep hygiene tips. (You probably already know them, but let’s go over them again, for old time’s sake):

  1. Don’t watch TV, check your phone, or fiddle with any blue light devices before going to bed or when you wake up in the middle of the night. It blocks the release of the melatonin necessary for the whole sleep enterprise.
  2. For that matter, cover with a hand towel or turn away from view any blue light-emitting devices that you can’t simply banish from your bedroom - a clock, a cable box, a computer… you get the picture.
  3. And while you’re at it, something as simple as a comfortable sleep mask or installing room-darkening shades can make a huge difference for some. Huge.
  4. The proverbial nightcap before bed may seem like it relaxes you for falling asleep, and it probably does, but it typically wakes you up about 2 hours later.
  5. Distract your mind from the internal chatter that keeps you up – that’s often one of 3 go-to’s for most people: (a) all the stuff you have to do next day; (b) offences and insults collected over the day that just was; or (c) circular worry about a person you love. Instead, occupy your thinking brain with pleasant distraction while relaxing your body. Yes, we’re talking about guided imagery. What a surprise!

Restore Some Routine, Just for the Sake of… Well, Having a Routine

Most of us find stability and reassurance from doing what we always do. The pandemic stole a lot of that from most of us, creating a certain degree of internal mayhem or un-ease, even if we didn’t fully realize it. So, create your own arbitrary routines and stick to them. Pick certain times to eat, or do your work, or stop doing your work; to exercise or call your besties or Zoom with colleagues. The what doesn’t matter so much having something regular to hang your hat on.

Make Sure Part of that Routine Includes Regular Self-Care

Pick some easy, non-demanding, soul-nourishing things to do and commit to doing them. You know – stuff like gardening, taking a bath, dancing, watching a favorite movie, painting, yoga, walking in the woods… And please note: this should not translate into having one more thing on your obligatory to-do list. Rather, you’re rewarding yourself for a productive day, well spent (or, alternatively, for a crappy day you withstood with honor!). You can give yourself that self-caring thing that supports and refreshes you, naming it as a reward as you do it. 

Take it easy on yourself. 

A little self-compassion can go a long, long way. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling cranky or depressed or anxious; or for letting your guard down and letting snarky comments escape your lips, like nasty little toads leaping off your tongue. Remember, all of us are a little nuts these days, and for good reason. So yes, acknowledge you’ve not been your best self, set your mind on trying to do better, and leave it there.  Oh, and when it comes to self-kindness, we’ve got some great meditations for that, too.

These might seem like small changes, and, in fact, they are small changes. But behavioral science tells us it’s the little things done regularly that seriously add up. In fact, they can be downright transformative on mood, energy, productivity, sociability, and self-esteem.

So, you may want to give some of these a shot. What the heck. It won’t hurt and it could help. And in the meantime, you have our best wishes!